A Republican presidential elector in Iowa, Melinda Wadsley, resigned on Thursday after she told the Associated Press she may not cast her vote for Mitt Romney if Romney won Iowa's six electoral votes.
“I have accepted Melinda Wadsley’s resignation this afternoon effective immediately,” said Republican Party of Iowa Chairman A.J. Spiker in a statement. “The Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee will now begin the process of selecting a new Presidential Elector from the Fourth District.”
Wadsley, a Ron Paul supporter, was one of six electors Republicans chose in Iowa. She was upset at how the Republican establishment treated Ron Paul and told the AP, along with two other electors from Nevada and Texas, they were considering their options if Romney won their respective states.
"They've never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I'm disgusted with that," Wadley said in a story published Thursday morning. "I'd like to show them how disgusted I am."
Wadsley later told the AP on Thursday night, after she resigned after having been contacted by the Iowa Republican Party, that she had always been a "straight ticket Republican, and, for the first time in my life I am an undecided voter, therefore, I need to resign my position as a Republican presidential elector."
With Romney and Obama tied in Iowa (Obama leads by 0.2 points in the RealClearPolitics average and Romney has been closing the gap), Paul supporters will be extremely important in potentially determining which candidate wins the state.
Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson was added to the state's presidential ballot last week. Romney's campaign is worried that Johnson will siphon off Paul supporters, who have gained a significant foothold in the state's party establishment. Johnson could also steal votes from Obama, attracting liberal college students who would otherwise vote for Obama.
The Iowa Republican Party took Wadsley's threat seriously and immediately contacted her after the AP interview was published.
There are many election models in which Romney could defeat Obama with 272 or 271 votes, so one faithless elector could potentially cause electoral college chaos, especially in the rare -- but not implausible -- scenario in which Romney and Obama end up tied in the electoral college.
There have been a few instances of faithless electors in the past. In 2000, for instance, an Al Gore delegate did not vote for Gore in Washington, D.C. and in 2008, a Kerry delegate from Minnesota cast an electoral vote for John Edwards, who was Kerry's running mate.